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Coronavirus facts and myths, explained



In Alabama, no domestic travel restrictions are in place. You can still leave your home. However, experts warn that staying at home and avoiding contact with other people is imperative to limit the spread of this virus, which could overload the state’s health system if not contained.


Gov. Kay Ivey has so far not issued a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order. But hospitals are advising people to stay at home.


There is no indication that there will be a national quarantine or travel restrictions. President Donald Trump reportedly considered a travel restriction for New York, but backed away from that. States are largely handling restrictions. In Alabama, a number of non-essential businesses are closed. But travel is not limited.

There are currently no plans to lock down completely. If travel restrictions are imposed, you will still be able to go to the grocery stores, according to Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris and EMA director Brian Hastings. Harris and Hastings urged Alabamians not to panic buy food.

“Remember to be prepared,” Harris said. “But there’s no advantage to being over prepared. There is no shortage of food. There’s no shortage of things other than temporarily for paper products, as we all know about but but we have no concerns or issues that people won’t be able to access food if they need it. I would say in any type of closure activity throughout the world grocery stores have been exempted from that. And it would be no different, you know, in this state as well, grocery stores have to remain open because people have to be able to access that food.”

The Trump administration released new guidelines for the public to follow to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including closing schools and avoiding groups of more than 10 people, discretionary travel, bars, restaurants and food courts. Officials have promised that grocery stores will remain open.

While some issues surrounding the COVID outbreak have become political (like whether to provide paid sick leave, whether to fully cover the costs of treatment or whether President Donald Trump has handled the crisis well), the underlying issue is not political. Viruses do not care about politics. They will infect you whether you vote Republican or Democratic. Experts roundly agree that this is a public health crisis that could cripple our health care system if we don’t respond.


Some in the Republican Party have claimed the pandemic is overblown, but state and national leaders are treating it as a serious crisis. Take President Donald Trump for example. He has been criticized for his initial response to the crisis, but on Monday, he acknowledged the severity of the outbreak. “We have an invisible enemy,” Trump said. “This is a bad one. This is a very bad one.”


In Alabama, conservative leaders like Gov. Kay Ivey and Secretary of State John Merrill are urging caution. Merrill is working on a plan to postpone Alabama’s primary election, and Ivey has declared a state of emergency.

No! This image has been circulating on social media. It claims that Coronavirus can be prevented by gargling salt water or vinegar water. Gargling saltwater or vinegar will not prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid contact with symptomatic individuals or those who might have been exposed. And to WASH YOUR HANDS. Gargling some combination of warm water, salt, and vinegar can be used as a means of relieving symptoms related to colds and flus. But there is no evidence that it can help ward off or drive out infections of coronavirus. Read more from Snopes.

No! Do not gargle bleach. Bleach is corrosive and could seriously harm you if you put it anywhere in or on your body. It also does nothing to prevent infection. It can be useful to disinfect surfaces if diluted. Gargling alcohol is also not effective at preventing infection. Alcohol, however, can also be used to clean surfaces.

The World Health Organization advises that COVID-19 virus can still be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates. From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather.


Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

No, taking a hot bath does not prevent new infections. Your normal body temperature remains the same, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower.


Taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can actually be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently washing your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus is transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose, according to the World Health Organization.

No! Just don’t do that. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body, according to the World Health Organization. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.

No. There is no vaccine available for SARS-CoV-2 (the specific type of coronavirus causing the current outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus). It could take up to a year or 18 months to develop a working, safe vaccine for this virus, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.


Flu and pneumonia vaccines are not effective against this virus.

No! There is no vaccine currently available to prevent COVID-19 infections. COVID-19 is a totally different virus from the seasonal flu. A flu vaccine will not prevent COVID-19 infection. However, you should still get a flu vaccine to prevent influenza infection.


Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.


The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine.

No! According to the WHO, there is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus. There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections. 

No! Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus, according to the WHO.

Yes! Washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is the best recommendation for preventing coronavirus infection. Also, you should avoid touching your face, eyes and nose, and avoid contact with those who have been exposed to the virus, have recently returned from a hot spot of infections or who are exhibiting symptoms of an upper respiratory infection like the Flu, a cold or COVID-19. Symptoms include fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing.

No. There have been claims circulating on social media that black people and African-Americans are immune to coronavirus. There is simply no evidence this is the case. In fact, several high profile cases of black people being infected with coronavirus have already happened. Two African-American NBA basketball players tested positive for coronavirus last week.


This is a dangerous claim to make even as a joke because it builds on a long history of racist pseudoscience and furthers the belief that there are biological differences between black people and white people, which is not true. Such claims have been used to perpetuate discrimination, racism and slavery in the past.

People of all ages can be infected. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.


Young people should also be mindful that they can transmit the illness to their loved ones, like parents and grandparents, even if you are not symptomatic. Just because you are young and healthy doesn’t mean you may not be affected somehow.

The answer to this is complicated. Right now, Alabama has enough ICU beds and ventilators to handle the patient load. If the outbreak is not contained by people adhering to social-distancing guidance and good hand hygiene, it is possible that there could be too many cases of severe illness for the hospital system to handle.


We have an article here explaining this issue, which is the most important question right now.

You’re right that young people are less at risk of severe complications related to coronavirus. However, we all have a responsibility to the least among us to protect them from this disease. How would you feel if you were responsible for your parent or grandparent dying from this? We all have to sacrifice a little to ensure that our families are safe and our health care system can handle this crisis.


Moreover, there are plenty of young people with diabetes and heart conditions that could be affected by COVID-19. It’s also not entirely clear that the evidence out of China that young people are mostly spared by the disease is totally accurate. In Denmark, about half of the cases requiring intensive care are individuals under the age of 50.


The truth is that this is a new virus and a global pandemic, and we won’t know for a while exactly how it affects everyone.

We don’t know. The CDC’s new guidance on limiting events and discretionary travel is expected to be in place for eight weeks—maybe longer. And President Donald Trump said Monday that the new coronavirus reality could last until July or August.

No. There is a shortage of testing resources nationwide and in Alabama. Just because a case has not been confirmed in your county does not mean that the virus is not already there. An infected individual may not be able to get tested. Or they may not be showing symptoms yet. It takes about five days on average (between 2 days and two weeks) for an individual to begin exhibiting symptoms. This is called the incubation period, and people could be contagious during that time period.